That story about the time you went to Amsterdam five years ago is getting old now, isn’t it?
Think about your conversation go-tos on first dates, especially if you go on them often.
It’s likely you’re reusing the same anecdotes, and while there’s nothing wrong with that on its own, it can make your dates with Tom, Zain, Maddy, Aylah and JJ feel like Groundhog Day.
This can make conversation seem less exciting – as though you’re going through the motions of chit-chat in a performative, rather than engaged way.
Dating expert for Match, Hayley Quinn, says this leads to a lack of authenticity.
‘If you feel like you’re having the same old conversations on your dates, try shaking it up by allowing yourself to be authentic,’ she says.
‘This could mean relying less on anecdotes and sharing how you’re feeling in that moment.
‘Also, think about what subjects you love to talk about. You will become more attractive and engaging when you’re talking about something that genuinely excites you.
‘Even if your favourite subjects feel quirky or geeky, remember the right people for you will be able to engage with them.’
So if your go-tos revolve around generalised ideas about what you think will make you seem attractive (e.g. the time you got ‘wasted’, told to a 20-something), you’re likely not being present or entirely yourself.
‘Great conversations are also made up by your ability to listen,’ Hayley adds.
‘A good rule of thumb can be to ditch the small talk questions and instead only ask questions that you genuinely care about.’
One issue might be that you’re overprepared for dates.
While having a rough idea of things you might want to ask the person, it’s important to go with the flow.
Hayley says: ‘If you find yourself preparing for your first dates like a job interview, it may tell you something about your mindset around dating.
‘Perhaps you feel pressure to perform or impress? Or on a deeper level, perhaps you don’t believe your dates will be attracted to the “real” you?
‘If you go into a date thinking they won’t like you unless you’re this super smart, funny, flirty version of yourself, you will be putting yourself under a lot of pressure, and you will give your date the power to accept or reject you.’
This will likely affect the sides and stories about yourself you choose to share.
Think about it – are your memories of debauchery being shared because you genuinely want them to be known, or because you’re trying to get a certain reaction, or be seen in a certain way?
‘Instead try to see dating as a two-way street where you both have to work out your compatibility with one another,’ Hayley reminds us.
‘If you can adopt this as your mindset, it’s easier to behave authentically as you don’t need to win anyone’s approval, and if things don’t click you’re happier to let it go, without seeing it as a failure.’
Those who get nervous dating, the idea of going unarmed with pre-planned anecdotes might feel terrifying.
But Hayley said this planning can ‘meddle’ with dates.
‘For some people, preparing for their dates may feel like it’s building their confidence,’ she says.
‘However, dating isn’t like an exam, and you may find that a situation you haven’t prepared for arises and it will completely throw you.
‘Instead focus on creating ways to naturally feel less anxious on your dates.
‘That could include leaving plenty of time to travel, meeting in a location that’s convenient and familiar to you, going on an activity date that will naturally guide the conversation.
‘Once you’re able to be more relaxed it will help your natural personality and spontaneity flow.’
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